As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These examples represent Teacher talk, an indicator in the Infant CLASS tool. Why, then, is the dimension of Early Language Support so challenging?
A few months ago, I gave a training to a group of early childhood professionals over the Infant CLASS. As I was going over one of the indicators titled, Awareness and Cue Detection, I read the high range description on the face-page:
“Teachers consistently physically orient toward the majority of the infants and regularly look around the room. Teachers continuously acknowledge infants whether or not they are making bids for attention, by talking to them or giving them a nod or smile.”
After I was done, my group of participants almost collectively said, “So the “good” babies have to be noticed too?”
About four months ago, my husband and I welcomed our second child, Maddy, into the world. Unlike 20 months earlier, when Oliver was born, we weren’t worried about having all the right baby gear. I wasn’t waking with nightmares about the birth. Quite frankly, our hands were so full juggling full time jobs and a toddler that child #2 was more of an afterthought. It would be simple—I knew exactly what I was doing.
Let's talk today about the CLASS tool being used for infants and toddlers. You may be familiar with the fact that the Infant measure (birth to 18 months) has one domain—Responsive Caregiving— with four dimensions, while the Toddler measure (15-36 months) has two domains—Emotional and Behavioral Support and Engaged Support for Learning—with eight dimensions.
The science is in on New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent article by Bob Sulilvan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about half of us will resolve to change something in 2016, and about half of those resolvers will have given up by Valentine’s Day (that makes sense to me, I mean, the chocolate alone!). In spite of those odds, I love a good couple of New Year’s resolutions. Setting meaningful CLASS goals for the rest of your school or program year don’t have to be overwhelming, in fact, the simpler the better!
So, your program is using the CLASS observation tool in pre-K classrooms. That’s wonderful! Here are a few things to think about as you consider transitioning to include use of the CLASS at the infant and toddler age levels as well.
Our QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) journey began in 2004 in a small office with just three staff. Just like many organizations, we contracted with a consultant to guide us in the implementation of our pilot QRS (Quality Rating System). We assembled quality indicators and requirements galore into eight domains, including ratios, screening and assessment, program operations, learning environment, curriculum, etc. Documents, documents, and more documents were reviewed to assign a star rating for a child care center.
Infants are completely dependant on adults for their survival and development. That's why it is important to start CLASS observations even in classrooms with the youngest children. Learn about the four specific dimensions that make up infant-caregiver interactions, and how to improve these interactions in our new online program, Learn About Infant CLASS Dimensions.
Editor’s Note: There are several ways to approach coding in a mixed-age setting. Teachstone’s official recommendation when observing in multi-age settings is to alternate between two age levels in order to capture the experiences of most children and produce independent scores between the age levels. That being said, we are interested in hearing how other organizations approach observations. Which approach you choose depends on lots of factors, like the purpose of the observation, and time or money constraints.